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Adrian Mooy & Co
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Data published by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) has revealed that confidence amongst businesses has fallen into negative territory. Read >
If you are starting your own business, running it as a sole trader is the quickest and easiest way to do it. However, you will have unlimited liability which means you are personally responsible for business debts.
Another important aspect is that you are taxed on all the profits with little opportunity for tax planning. This is why most businesses will incorporate as profits increase.
We can assist in all aspects of self-employment, from choosing the best time to start the business, the best time for your year-end, support you through the initial business registration and provide advice on all aspects of tax.
We provide a range of compliance services for sole traders:
Partnerships are similar to sole trades, except that they are used when more than one person owns the business.
Each profit share is determined by the partners and best practice is to record this in a partnership agreement.
With partnerships each partner has joint and several liability for the debts of the partnership, so that if one partner cannot pay their share of any business debts, the debt will fall on the other partners.
Setting up a partnership agreement from the outset is essential.
Our compliance services include:
We are a member firm of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants and our rigorous internal procedures mean that clients can be confident that their accounts have been prepared in line with the Association’s standards of and the Companies Act 2006.
Corporate tax planning can result in significant improvements in your bottom line. Our services will help to minimise your corporate tax exposure.
Self assessment tax returns are becoming increasingly complex and failing to submit your return on time, or correctly, can result in substantial penalties.
We use our expertise and the latest tax software to ensure that tax returns are completed efficiently, accurately and on-time. We have considerable experience in dealing with HMRC and are also experienced in representing our clients should they be subject to a tax enquiry or investigation.
We provide a comprehensive personal tax compliance service for individuals that includes:
Invoicing your contracting work through a limited company is highly tax efficient.
We are IR35 experts and will advise you on how to structure your next contract to minimise IR35 risk. We will ensure you claim all the tax deductible expenses that you are entitled to and work out if you can save money by joining the VAT Flat Rate Scheme. We will complete your accounts and tax returns ahead of deadlines and provide you with clarity over your future tax payments.
Free company incorporation and set up with HMRC if you are a new Contractor and sign up with us.
Included in this service:
VAT • Value added tax is one of the most complex and onerous tax regimes imposed on business. We provide an efficient cost effective VAT service which includes assistance with VAT registration and help with completing your VAT return.
Payroll • Administering your payroll can be time consuming and the task is made all the more difficult by the growing complexity of taxation and employment legislation. We provide a comprehensive payroll service.
Construction Industry Scheme • CIS returns & payments
Book-keeping • Maintenance of accounting records
Management Accounting • Provision of management accounts
If you wish to know more about these services please contact us on 01332 202660.
If your business does not require a statutory audit then our Assurance Service will provide reassurance that your accounts stand up to close scrutiny from your bank or other finance providers.
Work is tailored to your specific requirements and the level of confidence that you are looking to achieve and will provide credibility to your accounts by the issuing of an assurance review report.
Adrian Mooy & Co is a registered auditor with the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants.
We strive to provide an auditing service that adds more value than merely the statutory compliance requirement of an audit.
We tailor the audit to meet your circumstances and needs. Using the latest techniques and software we deliver a cost-effective audit that provides real value.
Before starting out you may need help with business planning, cash flow and profit & loss forecasts.
You may also want help identifying the best structure for your business. From sole trades and partnerships to limited companies and limited liability partnerships, we have the experience to advise on the best solution for you both operationally and from a tax point of view.
We also advise on accounting software selection, profit improvement, profit extraction & tax saving.
If you wish to know more about our Business Start-up service please contact us on 01332 202660.
We can work with you to:
Accountancy and taxation of property is a specialist area. We have the expertise and experience to work effectively with private landlords and property investors. We deal with self-assessment tax returns, accounts preparation and tax advice for all aspects of property portfolios.
Whether you are a first time buy to let landlord or a long established developer we will discuss and understand your situation in order to advise and recommend the most appropriate medium through which to carry out your property investments. We will guide you through the accounting and tax issues and help you to plan effectively to minimise your tax liabilities.
Services we offer include:
We take the time to explain your accounts to you so that you understand what is going on in your business.
Up to date, relevant and quickly produced management information for better control.
As part of our accounts service we prepare your annual accounts and complete yearly personal and business tax returns.
As your year-end approaches we will agree a timetable with you for completion of the accounts that minimises disruption to your business and leaves no late surprises when it comes to your tax liabilities.
We can also prepare management accounts to help you run your business and make effective business decisions. Management accounts are also very useful when approaching lending institutions when no year end accounts are available. We offer:
For a meeting to discuss your requirements please call us on 01332 202660.
We understand the issues facing owner-managed businesses.
We provide advice on personal tax & planning opportunities.
Running a small business places many demands on your time. We can help lift the load with our complete payroll service.
Designed to ease your administrative burden, our service removes what is often a time consuming task, leaving you free to concentrate on managing your business.
We can also prepare your benefits and expenses forms and advise you of any filing requirements and national insurance due. Benefits and expenses can be a complicated area and knowing what to report can be tricky.
We can file all your in-year and year end returns with HMRC and provide you with P60s to distribute to your employees at the year end.
We also offer a solution to meet your auto-enrolment obligations.
Businesses dealing with the requirements of VAT legislation will agree that this is often a complex area.
Our compliance services offer support for all stages of completing your VAT returns, whether you need advice on the treatment of specific transactions or have produced your records and would like verification that they are correct.
We can also advise on the pros and cons of voluntary registration, extracting maximum benefit from the rules on de-registration and the Flat rate VAT scheme.
Our consultancy service guides you through the intricacies of the legislation, pinpointing areas where you may be able to relieve or partly relieve the cost of VAT for your business, for example when purchasing new equipment or undertaking new projects such as property development.
For a free meeting to discuss VAT and obtain further advice please call us on 01332 202660.
We can conduct a full tax review of your business and determine the most efficient tax structure for you.
We give personal tax advice to a wide variety of individuals, including higher rate tax payers, company directors & sole traders.
We can assist with:
For a meeting to discuss your requirements please call us on 01332 202660.
Understand your needs
Firstly we listen and gain an understanding of your business and what you are aiming to achieve.
Build a relationship
Success in business is based around relationships and trust. Our objective is to develop and build strong relationships with our clients, based on two way trust and respect.
Confirm your expectations
Our aim is to help you maximise your business potential and we tailor our service to meet your requirements and agree a timetable for delivering them.
Communication is important to the success of any commercial venture. It is therefore a vital part of our work with you, sharing the knowledge and ideas that help you to realise your ambitions.
We seek your opinions on the service we provide and respond to feedback in order to upgrade and improve what we do.
Straightforward and easy to deal with Adrian Mooy & Co provide an efficient, friendly and professional service - payroll, tax returns, annual accounts and VAT returns are always done on time. Eddie Morris
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Should Landlords Incorporate? - Part 1
Issues to bear in mind for buy-to-let landlords thinking about incorporating of their property business.
A BTL investor should only incorporate his or her business if there is good reason to do so. Before the new rules restricting tax relief for finance costs on residential property, many landlords would not have been better off by incorporating. Since April 2016 a new, more punitive regime for taxing dividend income means that incorporation is even less beneficial.
Example: Sole proprietor vs company - Joe owns several properties, but has no other sources of income. His net property profits are £40,000. In 2016/17, his personal tax position will be:
If he had instead put his properties into a company, the company would first have to pay corporation tax on its profits:
Should Landlords Incorporate? - Part 2
But this is only half the story; although it is Joe's company, he has so far drawn out only £8,000 salary and the rest of the company’s profits are locked up in the company’s bank account - those funds are not yet his. He therefore pays a dividend out of the company to put the funds at his personal disposal.
The real problem is that, by 2020/21, Joe will be getting only 20% tax relief on his mortgage lnterest if he continues to hold the property personally, while the corporate alternative would not be caught. Suppose that Joe's net rental income of £40,000 is after having paid £32,000 in mortgage interest, and move forwards to 2020/21, where all of his mortgage interest will be subject to the new tax relief restriction:
Should Landlords Incorporate? - Part 3
Joe stands to lose £4,100 by 2020/21 if he continues to run his business personally, even though personal tax-free bands and allowances have risen significantly by then (the government has committed to increase the personal allowance to £12,500 and the higher rate threshold to £50,000).
We already have a rough idea of how Joe would fare with a corporate property portfolio, because companies will not be affected by the new BTL finance restrictions. On the basis that companies remain static, then Joe would still be £1,920 worse off in a company in 2020/21 than with a personal portfolio now in 2016/17, but that would nevertheless be £2,180 better than sticking with personal ownership all the way through to 2020/21.
Companies will be more tax-efficient by 2020/21 because the main rate of corporation tax is set to fall to 17%, increasing Joe's saving to more than £3,100.
Many career landlords are dealing with much larger numbers, and the savings will be much more substantial. The key consideration is how much the artificial tax cost of disallowing interest, etc., exceeds the compensating 20% tax relief. If we look instead at an alternative where Joe's mortgage interest is only £12,000, the results are quite different:
In this scenario, the new mortgage interest regime will end up costing Joe only a very small amount annually, even when fully implemented in 2020/21. He would be much better off sticking with direct ownership, rather than incorporating his business.
Other things to consider are the possible effects on student loans, child benefit and the forfeiture of personal allowance for those with larger portfolios.
Property development – are you trading?
For many, buying a property, doing it up and selling it for a profit is an attractive proposition. However, it will not always be clearcut when the line between simply investing in property and trading is crossed. From a tax perspective, the distinction is important as the tax consequences are not the same.
Which tax? - Assuming the goal of selling the property for more than it cost to buy and do up is realised, for tax purposes, it is important to determine whether that surplus is a chargeable gain liable to capital gains tax or a trading profit liable to income tax.
A gain in an investment property is taxed as chargeable gain (and conversely, if the property market fell and the property was sold at a loss, the loss would be an allowable loss). To the extent that it would remain available, any gains in excess of the annual exempt amount would be charged at the residential property rates of capital gains tax, which for 2017/18 are 18% where the taxpayer is a basic rate taxpayer and 28% where the taxpayer is a higher or additional rate taxpayer.
By contrast, a property developer who is trading and running an unincorporated business would be taxed at his or her marginal rate of tax once the personal allowance has been utilised – 20% for a basic rate taxpayer, 40% for a higher rate taxpayer and 45% for an additional rate taxpayer.
Investment vs trading – a question of intention
The starting point for determining whether the taxpayer is investing in property or trading is the original intention when buying the property.
Scenario 1 - Ben buys a run-down property as a long-term investment with a view to doing it up and then renting it out. Following a change in his personal circumstances, he sells the property shortly after completing the renovations, realising a gain of £30,000. His intention was to hold the property as an investment and this has not changed as a result of the sale. The gain is, therefore, chargeable to capital gains tax.
Scenario 2 - Bill also buys a run-down property, but he sees it as an opportunity to make a quick profit. He renovates the property and sells it once the renovations are complete. He makes a profit of £30,000 which he invests in another property that he also does up and sells, this time realising a profit of £50,000.
Unlike Ben, Bill is trading. His intention is to buy and sell property to make a profit. The profit is charged to income tax as trading income.
Determining intention will not always be clear cut. HMRC will consider factors such as how long the taxpayer owned the property, whether the sale and purchase is a one-off or one of series of transactions, whether the property has been rented out, whether it was acquired for personal enjoyment and whether there is a connection with the existing trade. This will provide a picture that determines whether the taxpayer is investing in or trading in property.
To ensure that the unwary do not get caught by unintended tax consequences, the question of whether the taxpayer is making an investment or trading should be determined at the outset.
Starting a business – what profits are taxed?
Starting a business – what profits are taxed?
An unincorporated business pays tax on what is known as the `current year basis’. This means that, as a general rule, the profits for a tax year are taxed by reference to the profits for the 12 months to the accounting date that ends in that tax year. So, for example, if Joe has been in business as a sole trader for many years and prepares accounts to 30 June each year, for the 2017/18 tax year he would be taxed on the profit for the year to 30 June 2017.
Early years - Special rules apply in the first few years of trade. The first year is taxed on the actual profits from the start of the business until 5 April at the end of that tax year. The basis period for year two depends on whether there is an accounting date (i.e. the date to which accounts are prepared) in that year and if so, whether that date is more or less than 12 months from the start of the business. Once year three is reached, the current year basis applies, and profits taxed are those for the 12 months to the accounting date ending in that year.
The following table shows the rules applying in the opening years.
|Year 1||Date of commencement to following 5 April
|Period 12 months or less,
ends during year
|Tax is paid on profits of first 12 months trading|
|Period 12 months or more,
ends during year
|Tax is paid on 12 months profits to the accounting date|
|No period end during year||Tax is paid on profits of the tax year|
|Year 3||Tax is paid on profits of the period ending during year 3|
When applying the opening year rules for Years 1 and 2, accounts drawn up to 31 March or to 1, 2, 3 or 4 April are treated as being equivalent to the tax year unless the taxpayer elects otherwise.
Lulu started trading on 1 June 2016. She prepares accounts to 30 April each year. The basis periods for the first three tax years are as follows:
Year 1 – 2016/17: 1 June 2016 to 5 April 2017 (actual)
Year 2 – 2017/18: 1 June 2016 to 31 May 2017 (first 12 months)
Year 3 – 2018/19: 12 months to 30 April 2018.
Overlap profits - Because of the way the rules work, some profits may be taxed twice. In the above example, the profits from 1 June 2016 to 5 April 2017 are assessed in both 2016/17 and 2017/18 and those from 1 May 2017 to 31 May 2017 are assessed in 2017/18 and 2018/19. These are known as `overlap profits’.
Relief for these overlap profits are given either when the trade ceases or there is a change of accounting date and the basis period for the year in which the change occurs is longer than 12 months.
Relief for early year losses
Many businesses make losses in the early years as they struggle to become established. The tax system provides various ways for relieving losses generally, with additional help available where the loss is incurred in the early years.
Option 1: relief for losses in early years of a trade - Unincorporated businesses with losses in the first four years of trade are able to carry the loss back against total income of the three years preceding the loss. The loss is set against income of the earliest year first – the individual does not get to choose the year against which the loss is relieved.
This can be useful if, say, an individual has been employed and then starts a business making an initial loss, as carrying the loss back may generate a tax refund. However, if income in the preceding years is low, carrying the loss back may not be the best option if this leads to personal allowances being wasted. The special relief for losses made in the early years of a trade is not available where a business prepares accounts under the cash basis.
Option 2: sideways relief - A trading loss can be relieved against general income of the year of the loss and/or against general income of the year preceding the loss. The taxpayer can choose whether to relieve the loss against the general income of the current or the preceding year, and which is to take priority where a claim is to be made for both years. However, it is an all or nothing claim and it is not possible to tailor the claim to use only part of the loss so as to preserve personal allowances, for example.
Where the individual does not have sufficient income to offset the loss in full, the relief may extend to capital gains.
Where a loss is made in the early years of the trade, relief can be claimed under these provisions rather than under the special provisions outlined above for applying to losses in the early years. As with early years relief, sideways relief is not available where the accounts are prepared under the cash basis.
Option 3: carry forward - Carrying the loss forward for relief against future profits from the same trade is essentially the default option and can be used if it is neither possible nor desirable to carry the loss back or sideways.
Best option - In ascertaining the best use for a loss, the aim is generally to get relief at the best possible rate as early as possible. However, what is the best strategy will depend on an individual’s circumstances and the extent that other income is available to mop up a loss. For example, it may not be desirable to carry a loss back or sideways if that results in personal allowances being wasted – in which case carrying the loss forward will be preferable. However, going back or sideways when this triggers a tax refund will generally be advantageous. It is also necessary to be aware of the cap of reliefs, set at the higher of £50,000 and 25% of adjusted net income.
Corporation tax and trading losses
Relief may be available where you operate your business through a company and you make a loss. The loss may be set against total profits of the current or previous accounting periods or may be carried forward and set against future trading income from the same trade.
Computing the trading loss - A trading loss is computed in the same way as a trading profit and normal rules apply. However, it should be noted that trading income does not include any chargeable gains, so chargeable gains are not taken into account in computing the loss.
The loss may be augmented by capital allowances and reduced by any balancing charges.
Entitlement to relief - A company can only obtain relief for a loss while the company carrying on the trade is within the charge to corporation tax in respect of that trade. This is the case where the company is either resident in the UK or resident abroad and carrying on a trade in the UK through a branch or agency.
Relief against total profits of same period - The first way in which relief for a trading loss may be given is against total profits of the accounting period for which the loss was incurred. Chargeable gains are not included in the computation of the trading loss, so if the company has chargeable gains in the period in which the loss was incurred, these can be sheltered by the loss.
Relief against total profits of a previous period - Once a claim has been made to set a trading loss against total profits of the period in which the loss was incurred, the balance of the loss can be carried back and set against the total profits of previous accounting periods to the extent that they fall within the period of 12 months immediately preceding the start of the loss-making accounting period. It is only possible to carry a loss back once it has been set against total profits of the period of the loss. However, any loss remaining after set-off against current year profits does not have to be carried back – it can go forward.
Carry forward against future trading profits - The loss may also be carried forward against future trading profits from the same trade. Note that any losses carried forward can be set only against trading profits and not against future chargeable gains.
A loss can be carried forward without the need first to make a claim against total profits of the current period. Where losses remain after carrying back to a previous period, these too can be carried forwards against future trading profits from the same trade.
Group relief - Where the company is a member of a group, losses may be able to be surrendered to other companies in the group.
Terminal loss - A loss in the last 12 months of trading (a terminal loss) can be carried back against total profits of the preceding three years.
Anti-avoidance – There are a number of anti-avoidance provisions that apply to prevent abuse of the loss relief rules, including restrictions where there is a change in the nature of the trade and where losses are uncommercial.
Planning - In general, the aim is to obtain relief sooner rather than later, but at the highest possible rate. Speak to your adviser as to what is best for you.
Buy-to-let landlords – relief for interest
With rising property costs and low interest rates, many people took out a mortgage to invest in a buy-to-let property. As long as property prices continued to rise and the tenants paid their rent, investors could make money from the rising market while the rent from the tenant paid off the mortgage – all the investor needed was the deposit and to convince the bank to lend them the money.
Fast forward a few years and the buy-to-let star is not burning quite so bright. Second and subsequent properties now attract a 3% stamp duty supplement – making them more expensive to buy – and relief for mortgage interest and other costs is being seriously reduced.
Interest relief – the new rules
Prior to 6 April 2016, the rules were simple. In calculating the profits of his or her property business, the landlord simply deducted the associated mortgage interest and finance costs.
New rules apply from 6 April 2017, with changes being phased in gradually over a four-year period so as to move from a system under which relief is given fully by deduction to one where relief is given as a basic rate tax reduction. This changes both the rate and mechanism of relief. The changes do not apply to property companies – only unincorporated businesses.
What does this mean
Relief by deduction simply means deducting the amount of the interest, as for other expenses, in working out the profit or loss of the property business.
Where relief is given as a basic rate tax reduction, instead of deducting the interest in calculating profit, 20% of the interest is deducted from the tax calculated by reference to the profit (as determined without taking out interest for which relief is given as a tax reduction).
For 2017/18, a landlord can deduct in full 75% of his or her finance cost. The remainder is given as a basic rate tax reduction.
Freddie has a number of buy to let properties. In 2017/18, his rental income is £21,000, he pays mortgage interest of £5,000 and has other expenses of £3,000. He is a higher rate taxpayer.
Tax on his rental income is calculated as follows:
Rental income £21,000
Less: interest (75% of £5,000) (£3,750)
other expenses (£3,000)
Taxable profit £14,250
Tax @ 40% £5,700
Less: basic rate tax reduction
(20% (£5,000 x 25%)) (£250)
Tax payable £5,450
This compares to a tax bill of £5,200, which would have been payable had relief for the interest been given in full by deduction.
The pendulum swings gradually from relief by deduction to relief as a basic rate tax reduction. In 2018/19, relief for half of the interest and finance costs is by deduction and relief for the other half is as a basic rate tax deduction. In 2019/20, only 25% of the interest and finance costs are deductible, relief for the remaining 75% being given as a basic rate tax reduction. From 2020/21 onwards, relief is only available as a basic rate tax reduction.
Use of home as office
Use of home as office is a catch-all phrase to describe the costs that a self-employed businessperson has in running at least part of their business operations from home. It need not be an office as people may use a spare bedroom to hold stock for assembly and postage, or similar.
Many will have used the figures that HMRC has long published for employees’ ’homeworking expenses’ - initially £2 a week, then £3 a week, changing to £4 a week from 2012/13.
From 2013/14 onwards HMRC has adopted the following rates:
Hours of business use per month 25-50 flat rate per month £10
Hours of business use per month 51-100 flat rate per month £18
Hours of business use per month 101+ flat rate per month £26
So in HMRC’s eyes, I am entitled to a deduction of £120 a year for the use of home office space (or similar), but basically only so long as I spend at least 25 hours a month working from home. Working more than 25 hours a week - broadly full time - from home gets me the princely sum of £312 per year.
Working from home may be cheap, but it’s not that cheap.
The following guidance assumes that the claimant is not using the cash basis of assessment for tax purposes, as the rules work differently.
'Wholly and exclusively’ - Business expenses are allowed if incurred 'wholly and exclusively for the purposes of the trade'. This is a cardinal rule; however, there is a further point:
'Where an expense is incurred for more than one purpose, this section does not prohibit a deduction for any identifiable part or identifiable proportion of the expense which is incurred wholly and exclusively for the purposes of the trade’ (ITTOIA 2005, s 34).
Applying these principles, I do not have to use a room in my house exclusively for my self-employment, just so long as when I am using it for business purposes, that is all it is being used for.
The costs you are allowed to claim - It is worth bearing in mind that HMRC does have guidance on how to make a more comprehensive claim for using one’s home in the business, in its Business Income manual however you may find it strange that almost all of the examples result in a claim of around £200 a year or less!
HMRC’s guidance nevertheless includes the following potentially allowable costs:
If you incur appreciable costs on the above then just £120 a year as a standard use of home deduction, or even £312 a year, is likely to make you feel more than a little aggrieved.
Employees and the self-employed alike often need to undertake business journeys and mileage payments are often made to cover the cost of fuel and, where the car used is the individual’s own rather than a company car, the associated running costs and an element of depreciation. However, all mileage allowance payments are not the same.
It should be noted here that business travel does not include home to work travel (except in very limited circumstances).
Approved mileage allowance payments
Approved mileage allowance payments (AMAP) are relevant where an employee uses his or her own car for business travel. The system allows the employer to pay an employee a tax-free mileage rate, which does not need to be notified to HMRC on the employee’s P11D or payrolled. Approved mileage allowance payments are set for cars and vans at 45p per mile for the first 10,000 business miles with additional business miles at 25p per mile.
Tony undertakes 14,000 business miles for his employer in a tax year, using his own car for business.
The approved mileage payment is £5,000 ((10,000 @ 40p) + (4,000 @ 25p)).
If the employer pays a mileage rate in excess of the approved rate, the excess is taxable and must be notified to HMRC on the employee’s P11D. If the amount paid by the employer is less than the approved rate, the employee can claim tax relief for the shortfall.
Advisory fuel rates
HMRC also publish advisory fuel rates. These can be used by employers to reimburse fuel costs where the employee has a company car. The advisory fuel rates are lower than the approved mileage rates to reflect the fact that it is the employer, rather than the employee, who meets the running costs for the vehicle and suffers the associated depreciation.
As with approved mileage rates, payments in excess of the advisory rates are taxable.
The self-employed can also use mileage payments to work out business costs for vehicles if they opt to use the simplified expenses system. Under simplified expenses, the sole trader or partner records the number of business miles undertaken in the year and calculates the amount to deduct when working out business profits by applying a mileage rate. The mileage rates used under the simplified expenses system for cars, vans, and motorcycles are the same as the approved mileage rates set out above. So, a sole trader driving 14,000 business miles a year would be entitled to a flat rate deduction of £5,000.
Simplified expenses cover the costs of fuel, buying and running the vehicle. However, they cannot be used if capital allowances have been claimed for the vehicle.
`Relevant goods’ and the VAT flat rate scheme?
The VAT flat rate scheme is a simplified VAT scheme, which allows small traders to account for the VAT that they pay to HMRC by reference to a percentage of their VAT-inclusive turnover.
Prior to 1 April 2017, the percentage depended only on the business sector in which the business operated. However, from 1 April 2017 it is also necessary to determine whether the business counts as a `limited cost business’. Where a business meets the definition of a limited cost business, the VAT payable to HMRC is calculated as 16.5% of VAT-inclusive turnover for the period rather than by reference to the (lower) flat rate percentage for the business sector. The calculation needs to be performed separately for each VAT period.
A limited cost business is one where the spend on `relevant goods’ is either:
Relevant goods are goods that are used exclusively for the business. Crucially, they must be `goods’ not `services’. VAT Notice 733 gives the following examples of goods that count as relevant goods:
The above list is not exhaustive and other goods may count as relevant goods depending on the nature of the business.
A person receives `goods’ where ownership is passed to the business from another person or where title passes at a later date, such as goods purchased on hire purchase. The supply of water, power, heat, refrigeration, and ventilation is also a supply of goods (although hiring equipment to provide these is a supply of services).
In the main, items that are services rather than goods do not count as relevant goods. VAT Notice 733 contains the following list of examples of supplies that aren’t relevant goods:
The list is not exhaustive. Further guidance can be found in VAT Notice 733.
Interest Relief for Lettings - Making The Most of The Old Rules
The mechanism by which landlords receive tax relief for interest and other finance costs is changing from April 2017 … and not for the better. The current rules are more generous than the new rules in that they enable the landlord to receive tax relief at his or her marginal rate of tax. By contrast, the new rules - which are being phased in - will, when fully implemented, provide relief only at the basic rate. Further, relief will be given as an income tax reduction rather than as a deduction from rental income when computing taxable profits.
Current rules - Under the existing rules, interest and other finance costs, such as fees for arranging a mortgage or loan, are deducted as an expense when working out taxable profits.
Example - John has two properties which he lets out. In 2016/17, he pays mortgage interest of £10,000 on mortgages taken out to buy the properties. He receives rental income of £18,000 in the year and incurs other allowable expenses of £2,000.
The properties are investment properties. John is employed as an IT consultant and in 2016/17 he receives a salary of £70,000. He is a higher rate taxpayer.
For 2016/17 he can deduct the mortgage interest, along with the other expenses, to arrive at a taxable profit of £6,000. Thus, he obtains relief for the mortgage interest at his marginal rate of tax of 40% - thereby reducing his tax bill by £4,000.
Looking ahead - Relief for finance costs is to be gradually restricted from 2017/18 onwards, although the restriction only applies in relation to residential properties. It does not affect commercial lets.
The restriction is to be phased in from April 2017 and will be fully in place from the 2020/21 tax year.
In the transitional period, some relief will be given as for the current rules as a deduction in computing profits and relief for the remainder will be given as a basic rate tax deduction.
Based on the facts in the above example, once the restriction is fully implemented, John will receive relief for his mortgage interest costs as a reduction in his tax bill of £2,000 (assuming a basic rate tax of 20%). The change in the rules will ultimately cost him £2,000 a year compared to the current position.
The current rules are more generous than the new rules, and where costs can be brought forward to 2016/17 rather than 2017/18, this can be potentially advantageous to higher and additional rate taxpayers.
Partner note: ITTOIA 2005, s. 272A, 272B, 274A (as inserted by F(No. 2)A 2015, s. 24).
Using loan trusts to save IHT
A loan trust can be used as a vehicle to save inheritance tax, whilst retaining the ability to access the funds lent to the trust.
How does it work?
There are two elements to setting up a loan trust – the loan and the trust.
A trust is set up, which can be an absolute trust or a discretionary trust, and trustees are appointed. The settlor can also be a trustee.
Where an absolute trust is used, the beneficiaries and their share of the fund must be specified when the trust is created. A discretionary trust provides the flexibility to change the beneficiaries and their share – although there may be tax to pay.
The settlor makes a loan to the trust. The loan is invested in an investment bond with the potential for growth. The original loan is repayable, usually in regular instalments. In this way, the settlor is able to get back their loan capital. Equally, the settlor could choose for the loan not be repaid or repaid in full or in part at any time.
The settlor does not have access to the income that builds up in the trust. This is passed to the beneficiaries.
Any part of the original loan that remains in the trust at the time of the settlor’s death forms part of the settlor’s estate. This is because the settlor has retained access to the money.
However, income from the investment does not form part of the estate – although if the trust is a discretionary trust tax may be paid by the trust on the 10-year anniversary and when money leaves the trust.
Oscar created a discretionary loan trust and appoints his twin daughters as beneficiaries. He lends £100,000 to the trust.
The loan is repaid to Oscar at the rate of £5,000 a year.
Oscar dies five years and seven months later. At the date of his death, he had received loan repayments of £25,000.
The value of the trust at the date of his death was £124,000.
At the date of death, £75,000 of the original loan remained in his estate. The remaining £49,000 represents income growth and does not form part of his estate and can be passed to the beneficiaries free from inheritance tax.
As the settlor retains access to the funds lent to the trust, they remain in his or her estate. To take the funds out of the estate, the settlor would have to give them away absolutely. If in the above example, Oscar had not needed to retain access to the funds, he could have passed them on to his daughter when he was alive and benefited from taper relief having survived for five years.
The loan trust is something of a half-way house – the settlor has the comfort of being able to access the loan capital, but any growth is taken out of the estate.
Private Residence Relief for Landlords - Part 1
With landlords facing capital gains tax (CGT) rates of 18% and/or 28% on the disposal of residential properties, this article considers the availability of private residence relief on disposals by landlords.
Private residence relief is available to shelter the gain on disposal of a person’s only or main residence. Ownership of a property alone is not sufficient to qualify for the relief; there must also have been occupation of the property as a residence.
If a let property does qualify for relief, this could add up to a valuable sum, as the following amounts potentially qualify:
Ensuring the property is the taxpayer’s residence - to qualify for relief, the property must be the person’s only or main residence, which carries with it an expectation of occupation with permanence.
Private Residence Relief for Landlords - Part 2
Example - Let property: How much relief?
Fred bought a house on 1 July 2002 for £12S,000. He occupied the property until 30 September 2005, when he decided to go travelling. He returned to the property on 1 l\/lay 2006 and occupied it until 31 March 2009, when he bought another house jointly with his girlfriend, which they occupied together. He decided to let out his house, and it was let until he disposed of it for £294,697 on 30 June 2016.
The periods qualifying for relief are as follows:
The property was owned for 14 years in total, with eight years and three months attracting private residence relief. The total gain was £169,697 and £100,000 of the gain (8.25/14 years x £169,697) qualifies for private residence relief.
The gain attributable to letting is for a period of five years and nine months and is £69,697 (5.75/14 years x £169,697). As this exceeds the maximum amount of relief of £40,000, the amount of relief for the letting period is restricted to £40,000.
This leaves Fred with a chargeable gain of £29,697.
Private Residence Relief for Landlords - Part 3
Which property is the only or main residence? Where a person has more than one residence (which is different to owning more than one residential property), determining which property is the main residence can either be decided on the facts, or an election can be made to nominate which is the main residence (TCGA 1992, s 222(5)).
Where an election is made, the property that is nominated does not have to factually be the 'main' residence, but it does have to be a dwelling house in use as the person’s residence (i.e. occupied on a permanent basis) for the election to be valid.
Time limits apply for making an election. An election can be made within two years of whenever there is a new combination of residences. This happens when a person starts occupying a dwelling as a residence, or ceases occupying a property as their residence (which may be different to when the property is acquired or disposed of).
An election can be varied at any time, and backdated for up to two years from the date that it was given. HMRC guidance states:
‘A variation will often be made when a disposal of a residence is in prospect or the disposal has already been made and the individual making the disposal wishes to secure the final period exemption.
For example, where an individual with two residences validly nominates house A, they may vary that nomination to house B at any time. The variation can then be varied back to house A within a short space of time. This will enable the individual to obtain the benefit of the final period exemption on house B with a loss of only a small proportion of relief of on house A.’
Ownership by husband and wife - for the purposes of private residence relief, a husband and wife may only have one residence. However, when it comes to letting relief, in the case of joint ownership by husband and wife each may have relief of up to £40,000.
Claiming tax relief for employment expenses
In most cases, employees will be able to claim back any expenses that they incur in doing their job from their employer. However, where the employer will not reimburse the employee’s expenses, there may be tax relief to be had.
Relief can only be claimed for qualifying expenses. These may be either qualifying travel expenses or expenses wholly, exclusively, and necessarily incurred in performing the duties of the employment. Any expense that meets this condition is eligible for relief, although those seeking to make a claim should be warned that this is a strict test.
Employees may incur travel expenses as part of their job. While there is generally no deduction for the normal day to day costs of travelling between home and work (unless the employee is temporarily working at another location for less than two years), employees may be able to obtain tax relief for the cost of business journeys where this is not met by the employer. To qualify, the journey must be a business journey and not substantially the same as the normal home to work journey – for example, travelling to visit a supplier in another part of the country or attending a meeting during the day at a customer’s premises. A deduction may be claimed for the cost of public transport, parking, etc.
A deduction may also be claimed for associated expenses on food, drink, and overnight accommodation.
Where the employee uses his or her own car for business travel and the employer does not meet the cost, the employee can claim a deduction based on 45p per mile for the first 10,000 business miles in the tax year, and 25p per mile thereafter. If the employer does pay a mileage allowance, but it is less than this, the employee can claim relief for the shortfall.
Fees and subscriptions
If the employee pays a subscription to an approved professional body and the employer does not meet the cost, the employee is entitled to the tax relief as long as membership is necessary or helpful to his or her job.
Working at home
Where the employee works at home, they may be able to claim relief for the additional costs incurred as a result, such as additional electricity and gas used. A claim of £4 a week does not need to be substantiated.
If the employer meets some but not all of the cost, the deduction claimed must be reduced by the amount reimbursed by the employer.
Making the claim
Tax relief for employment expenses can be claimed via the self-assessment return where the employee needs to complete one. If the employee does not need to complete a tax return and the claim is not more than £2,500, it can be made on form P87.
NIC and the self-employed
Change is on the horizon – from April next year, the self-employed will only pay one Class of National Insurance rather than the two currently payable.
Depending on the level of their profits, the self-employed may currently be liable for two Classes of National Insurance contribution – Class 2 and Class 4.
Class 2 is payable at a flat weekly rate for each week of self-employment in the tax year. For 2017/18, the contribution rate is £2.85 per week. A contribution liability only arises if profits exceed the small profits threshold, set at £6,025 for 2017/18. The contributions for the year are payable by 31 January after the end of the tax year and are payable under the self-assessment system (although they are not taken into account in working out payments on account. Payment of Class 2 contributions earns entitlement to the state pension and certain contributory benefits.
Class 4 contributions currently earn no pension and benefit entitlement. They are payable at the main rate of 9% on profits between the lower profits limit of £8,164 and upper profits limit (UPL) of £45,000 and at the additional rate of 2% on profits over the UPL of £45,000 (2017/18 rates and limits). They too are collected via self-assessment but are taken into account when working out payments on account.
From April 2018
From 6 April 2018 (2018/19 tax year), the self-employed will only pay Class 4 contributions. Class 2 contributions are abolished from that date and Class 4 is reformed to provide the mechanism by which the self-employed earn pension and benefit rights.
The reformed Class 4 looks a lot like Class 1 when assessed on an annual basis (as for directors) – but (for the time being at least), a lower rate.
In the Spring 2017 Budget, the Government announced plans to increase the main rate to 10% from April 2018 and again to 11% from April 2019 – only to swiftly back track. For now, this looks likely to remain at 9% come April 2018 – but it remains to be seen how long it stays there.
Dividends have lost some of their appeal thanks to the changes announced in the 2015 Summer Budget, and implemented from 6 April 2016. Basically, the effective income tax rate on dividends has increased by 7.5% across the bands, significantly narrowing the efficiency margin. However, where the alternative is a bonus subject to employees' and employers' National Insurance contributions (NICs), they are still relatively tax-efficient, and are likely to remain the preferred method of extracting profits (broadly above the personal allowance) for many family-owned companies.
Beware of insufficient company reserves - The company may pay out as dividends only what it can afford to, when measured against its distributable profits - basically all the after-tax profits it has ever made since incorporation, after all previous dividends it has paid out. It does not necessarily matter if a company is making losses, or has just made losses in the latest accounting period; what matters is whether there remains an overall distributable surplus.
Get the balance right - Taxpayers often assume that they can vote dividends in the amounts they see fit, for various family shareholders. By default, dividends must be voted in proportion to shareholdings. This is arguably subject to the company’s Articles of Association, but it would be most unusual for the Articles to deviate from this standard.
Dividend waivers - One of the ways to get around this is to 'waive' one’s entitlement to a proposed dividend by means of a dividend waiver, in respect of some or all of one’s shares. The waiver can be in respect of a future dividend, or several future dividends, or apply for a given period.
Pitfalls with waivers - A waiver is a formal document: it is a legal deed of waiver so must be drawn up correctly, and must be signed and witnessed accordingly. Waivers cannot be implemented retrospectively; they must be in place before entitlement to the dividend arises. They should not last for more than twelve months.
Alphabet shares instead? - If waivers are likely to be a regular feature, then it may be better to issue a separate class of shares to the affected shareholder, that may well rank on an equal footing with the original class of shares, but effectively circumventing the presumption that all shares of a particular designation are equally entitled to a dividend. It is generally recommended that such shares rank on an equal footing so that they are demonstrably and significantly more than just a right to income.
Pitfalls in relation to timing of dividends - A common pitfall with otherwise valid dividends is that the dividend paperwork must also be in order - and timeous.
ln particular, interim dividends may be varied at any time up until they are actually paid, and if payment is effected by journal entry rather than with a money transfer (cheque, bank credit, etc.) HMRC’s position is that it is not effected until it is written up in the company’s books and accounting records. ln HMRC’s company taxation manual (at CTM15205), HMRC is quite clear that if the journals are written up later on, the dividend will be treated as paid on that later date - even if in a later income tax year.
Conclusion: Despite the government’s best efforts, dividends remain a very important component of the profit extraction/remuneration strategy of most family companies. There are, however, numerous opportunities to go wrong, and it is important to work with your accountant to develop (and stick to) a compliant regime that works for your business.
Tax-efficient profit extraction for the family company
The main options are:
What is better, pay or dividends?
Dividends are often combined with a salary to get the most tax effective extraction of profits when a business is carried on through a company. For many years it has been attractive to pay a small salary to allow the tax efficient use of the personal allowance, to provide a corporation tax deduction for the company but not to pay National Insurance contributions (NICs). This means a salary of £680 a month in 2017/18. This also results in a qualifying year for the state pension.
A new tax regime for dividends was introduced in April 2016 which resulted in many director-shareholders paying more tax on dividends. Does this change the mix of low salary and the remainder as dividends?
The Dividend Allowance of £5,000 does not change the amount of income that is brought into the income tax computation. Instead, it charges the first £5,000 of dividend income at 0% tax. This means that:
The result is that a low salary and the balance of income taken as dividends will still be tax efficient for many director-shareholders. This is likely to be the case even when the Allowance reduces to £2,000 in April 2018.
For a higher rate taxpayer who just pays 2 per cent employee NICs, it would cost the company a gross £1,962 in salary or bonus to pay such an employee £1,000 net. The company should then qualify for 20 per cent corporation tax relief on this amount, bringing the net cost down to £1,570.
In contrast, if the company paid the individual a dividend, the higher rate taxpayer would have to pay 32.5 per cent tax on the dividend, and the company would therefore have to pay a dividend of £1,481.48 for the shareholder director to have an after-tax income of £1,000. That is just 5.6 per cent less than the bonus, so it is still worthwhile. The NIC saving outweighs the extra dividend tax.
Paying interest to the director-shareholder
Interest receipts are the main category of savings income. There are two tax breaks which can apply to savings income. One is the Savings Allowance which was introduced from April 2016. The Savings Allowance, which is £1,000 for basic rate taxpayers and £500 for higher rate taxpayers, charges interest up to these amounts at 0%.
The other tax break on savings income, the 0% starting rate of tax on savings income, has been around for many years but until recently it did not provide significant tax savings. The 0% starting band now potentially applies to £5,000 of savings income. This rate is not available if ‘taxable non-savings income’ (broadly earnings, pensions, trading profits and property income) exceeds the starting rate limit. However, dividends are taxed after savings income and thus are not included in the individual’s ‘taxable non-savings income’.
It is quite reasonable for the company to pay interest to its director on any credit balance in the director’s account, or on funds the director has provided to his company. However, the interest should be calculated at a commercial market rate, not at loan-shark rate.
Jane is a director-shareholder and has made loans to her company. She may be able to charge £5,000 a year based on the amount she has lent and a market rate of interest. She takes a small salary (approximately £8,000) and the balance as dividends (typically about £50,000). The salary would be covered by the personal allowance (which is £11,500 for 2017/18), with the dividend receiving the benefit of the remainder of the personal allowance – so £3,500. The rest of the dividend would be taxed at Dividend Allowance rate (0%), basic rate (7.5%) and higher rate (32.5%).
If £5,000 of interest was received there is an opportunity to benefit from the 0% starting rate on £5,000 of the interest. Personal allowances can be allocated in the way which will result in the greatest reduction in the taxpayer’s liability to income tax and so, in this example, £3,500 would still be allocated to dividends as in the previous paragraph. Jane would have the benefit of the £5,000 interest being tax free rather than £5,000 dividends taxed at 7.5% (a saving of £375). There would also be a saving to the company as the interest paid is generally deductible from taxable profits which gives a saving of £5,000 at 19% (£950).
To formalise the payment of interest on a director’s loan account an agreement should be drawn up between the company and individual setting the interest rate (or range of rates) and repayment terms.
Paying family members
Companies often seek to minimise the tax position of director-shareholders by involving members of the same family and using personal reliefs and lower rate tax bands of each person. Income is therefore diverted from the higher rate taxpayer. However, anti-avoidance rules need to be considered as to whether a diversion is effective. This is particularly relevant for married couples.
Where it is considered that arrangements have been made by one spouse which contain a gift element, then the ‘settlements’ rules may apply and the person who made the gift, rather than the recipient of the income, will be taxable on that income. A key purpose of these rules is to ensure that income alone or a right to income is not diverted from one spouse to the other. Genuine outright gifts of ‘normal’ share capital from which income then wholly belongs to the other spouse are not caught by the rules because of a specific exemption from the settlement rules.
Family company shares and the dividend income derived therefrom can be challenged by HMRC in some cases. An example of a structure which may be challenged is the issue of a separate class of shares with very restricted rights to a spouse, with the other spouse owning the voting ordinary shares. Another area of potential risk is the recurrent use of dividend waivers particularly where the level of profits is insufficient to pay a dividend to one spouse without the other waiving dividends.
Relief for individuals’ contributions - An individual is entitled to make contributions and receive tax relief on the higher of £3,600 or 100% of earnings per tax year.
A company will normally obtain a tax deduction against its profits for pension contributions. The contributions must be paid before the end of the accounting period in order to obtain a tax deduction in that period. Employer pension contributions are tax and NIC free to the director-shareholder as long as the ‘Annual Allowance’ of the director-shareholder is not exceeded.
Broadly, the Annual Allowance is £40,000 per tax year but unused amounts of £40,000 from three previous years may be able to be brought forward. However, there are complex rules which apply to those with ‘adjusted income’ over £150,000, which can reduce the Annual Allowance to as little as £10,000, so detailed advice should be taken before any pension planning is undertaken. The following example helps explain the potential benefits.
Conclusion - the tax system allows savings but planning is required.
Tax-efficient transfer of company-owned property
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